Merridee Michelsen, Ph. D., on Slow Processing Speed — Introduction

Editor’s note:   Merridee Michelsen, Ph. D.,  Assistant Headmaster — Internal Affairs and Director of Academics at Brandon Hall School in Atlanta, Georgia, sent the information in letter form to assist FamilyLight sm in meeting the needs of one of our clients with a slow processing issue.   With Dr. Michelsen’s help, we have edited her work very slightly for more general use,  for example, removing the name of our client.   Our client was male, so the information uses male pronouns.  Keep in mind the issues raised here are applicable to both male and female students alike.  Also note that in proposing accommodations, Dr. Michelsen was working from a psycho-educational evaluation of a particular student. 

WISC-IV scores of the student triggering this communication are as follows:

  • Verbal Comprehension (VCI)    91
  • Perceptual Reasoning (PRI)  88
  • Working Memory (WMI)  74
  • Processing Speed (PSI)  68
  • Full Scale (FSIQ) 76

In Dr. Michelsen’s words:

We often hear that a child has a processing disorder or has a slow processing speed, but what does that really mean, and how does it impact the child?

Processing speed affects how the brain organizes information.  It impacts upon a person’s ability to focus on important things while ignoring less important items, and is what allows the brain to shift from one activity to another.  There are many ways the brain receives information.  In school, the two most common ways students receive and process information are through auditory and visual input (National Center for Learning Disabilities).

How well a student understands what someone is saying, his ability to keep up when someone talks quickly, to block out distracting, interfering sounds, to distinguish one voice from another, remember what he has heard, and sequence sounds correctly are a just a few of the procedures involved with auditory processing.  Auditory processing is not a problem with the student’s hearing, but rather it is with how that information is interpreted by the brain.

(Dr. Michelsen goes on to explain some of the issues involved with Slow Processing and some of the supports that these students need) 

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Brandon Hall School

Last Updated April 23, 2014

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